Police arrest 200 people in Paris as protesters petrol-bomb McDonald's

Paris May Day

Paris May Day

Anti-capitalist protesters torched a McDonald's restaurant and clashed with police in Paris on the fringes of a May Day rally in Paris Tuesday.

Authorities said around 1,200 masked and hooded protesters dressed in black turned up on the sidelines of the annual May Day demonstration by labour unions.

French police arrested over 200 people as masked protesters smashed shop windows and hurled petrol bombs in Paris.

More than 200 anarchists were arrested and four people, including a police officer, were lightly wounded in the ensuing disturbances, Paris police chief Michel Delpuech told a news conference.

After trying to hold up the march a group of protesters ran amok along the route, destroying a McDonald's restaurant near Austerlitz station, east of the city centre, and setting it ablaze.

The interior Minister of France Gerard Collon condemned the violence at the rally, adding that the police are doing everything to detain the instigators of the riots.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering up their faces. "When you have honest convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked", he said.

President Emmanuel Macron, elected last May on a promise to shake up France's creaking economy and spur jobs growth, is locked in a battle with the trade unions over his plans to liberalise labour regulations.

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'Those who wear hoods are the enemies of democracy'.

Protesters carried Soviet flags, and chanted anti-fascist slogans and throwing firecrackers. Some started to erect barricades.

The scenes of looting and destruction overshadowed the May Day march, which drew between 20,000 and 55,000 peaceful protesters according to police and union estimates.

"They came to hit capitalist symbols and burn cops".

Discontent with Macron's economic policies has spread beyond the railways and the May Day protests were meant to send a message of defiance to the former investment banker, who is now on a trip to Australia.

Police said the Black Blocs had mixed into a second rally of 14,500 people set up alongside the official union movement.

Opposition conservative and far-right politicians accused Macron's government of being insufficiently prepared for the violent protests and criticised it for not cracking down more heavily on far-left anarchist groups.

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